If the punching bags that line the workout rooms at Max Combat Fitness could talk, they would probably still keep their mouths shut. That’s how scared they are of the professional and amateur fighters who inflict a beating on them every day during the gym’s muay thai and mixed-martial-arts classes. Led by chiseled combatant George Tsutsui, the team of instructors leads students of all ages and skill levels through the basics of hand-to-hand martial arts. If they aren’t interested in learning MMA strikes or jujitsu grappling techniques, students can burn calories in cardio-kickboxing classes that eschew contact in favor of aerobic dance moves. Similarly, the gym’s conditioning classes improve strength, speed, stamina, and flexibility through stretching exercises and explosive bursts of movement.
UFC Gym - Walnut Creek’s fight-centric gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, UFC Gym- Walnut Creek sculpts six-packs with boxing and kickboxing classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym’s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.
For more than 30 years, the senseis behind Martial Arts America have filled the minds and fists of students as young as 4 years old through adulthood with the focus, discipline, and confidence that comes from studying self-defense. The instructors lead five martial-arts forms—tae kwon do, eskrima, jujitsu, krav maga, and CDT training, which stands for compliance, direction, and takedown—helping patrons strengthen their bodies and minds. This multidimensional program trains students in defensive tactics such as strikes, grappling, throws, rolls, and using fighting sticks to protect innocent civilians from rogue baseball-pitching machines.
Fifth-degree black belt Hank Valadao has taught numerous students throughout his more than 25-year martial-arts career. At Fit Force, that number continues to grow with each martial-arts, kickboxing, or boot-camp class scheduled. The driving force of Valadao's passion is his energetic, upbeat demeanor, which rubs off on his staff, students, classes, and sweat towel.
David Camarillo grew up on mats, training and competing with his brother at their father’s judo club. After a knee injury limited his standup fighting ability, David discovered the ground game of Gracie jiu-jitsu and welded it with his father’s tutelage to create the Guerilla jiu-jitsu system. Guerilla jiu-jitsu fuses the fluid movements of Brazilian forms with Olympic judo and wrestling into a nonstriking, grappling art for all ages and skill levels. Students learn to leverage their bodies against opponents of varying size as they gain skills that can be used in a competitive, self-defense, or recreational setting. In addition to jiu-jitsu classes, the multidisciplinary center offers sessions in muay thai kickboxing, as well as women’s self-defense sessions and anti-bullying classes that emphasize nonstriking and conflict-resolution skills.
Alexander Crispim, the muscular, prolific leader of Crispim BJJ Barra Brothers, presides over his blue-floored kingdom, watching as patrons battle one another with traditional brazilian jujitsu grappling techniques. Rows of heavy, black punching bags dangle between padded walls, all centered around the gym's main draw—the MMA cage, which is free of man-eating tigers. In addition to jujitsu, the gym offers a variety of combat-based programs including muay thai, boxing, and wrestling. Those looking for a high-intensity workout without the sparring can opt for MMA fitness classes, which turn traditional boxing and muay thai moves into aerobic routines to burn fat and build strength.